Why is the Philippine eagle endangered

Monkey eagle

The Monkey eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) who too Philippines eagle belongs to the hawk family (Accipitridae) to the genus of the monkey eagle (Pithecophaga). The monkey eagle can easily match the white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) can be confused.


Appearance and dimensions

The monkey eagle reaches a body length of 91 to 110 centimeters, a wingspan of 200 to 240 centimeters and a weight of 4,700 to 8,000 grams. Within the hawk family (Accipitridae) the monkey eagle is the largest species. The belly and the head are whitish to light brown or beige in color. The top of the head and the neck are characterized by comb-like elongated feathers and are clearly darker, mostly medium brown in color. The back and wings are dark brown in color. The dark brown plumage shows a predominantly light brown to whitish fringing. The tail is brown on the top, light brown on the underside and shows a wide band of light and dark brown transverse bands. The wings are cream-colored to whitish on the underside. The chicks are covered with a soft and white-colored downy plumage, juvenile birds already resemble the adult eagles. The extremities are yellowish in color, the toes end in powerful claws that are ideal for tearing prey. The strong beak is clearly curved downwards at the tip and is blue-gray in color.

Way of life

The diurnal monkey eagles live solitary or in pairs. The monogamous marriage usually lasts a lifetime. Monkey eagles are good fliers, but they rarely climb high, and on their flights they mainly use the thermals, especially warm updrafts, to fly in an energy-saving way. They are extremely territorial and claim a territory of a few dozen square kilometers, territory sizes of over 100 square kilometers are not uncommon. The monkey eagle has no predators to fear, in its habitat it is at the upper end of the food chain.

Monkey eagle


The monkey eagle is endemic to some islands in the Philippines. It occurs particularly on the islands of Lu├žon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. The natural habitat extends over the tropical primary rainforest, of which only a fraction is left today. It can only be found occasionally in sparse forests and gallery forests.


Monkey eagles mostly target medium-sized mammals. For example, Philippines gliders are high on their menu (Cynocephalus volans), Fleckenmusangs (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), Flying squirrel (Pteromyinae), young Jolo sika deer (Cervus nippon soloensis). It was named after the fact that monkey eagles also hunt primates (Primates) walk. Here they kill mainly crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis), Philippine lemurs (Tarsius syrichta) and sunda slow loris (Nycticebus coucang). But also smaller animals like rats (Rattus), Snakes (Serpentes), Bats (Microchiroptera) and birds (Aves) are by no means spurned. Depending on the occurrence, the diet can vary greatly. Monkey eagles mostly go for food alone, rarely in pairs. Captured animals are not eaten on site, but brought to the eyrie and eaten there. The hunt also starts from here.

Monkey eagle


Monkey eagles reach sexual maturity very late. Females are sexually mature when they are four to five years old, while males are only five to seven years old. The mating season usually extends from October to December, but there is only one clutch every two years. The laying of eggs, the hatching and the rearing of the young take place in the dry season, from February onwards. Monkey eagles live in a monogamous marriage that usually lasts a lifetime. They stay together even outside of the mating season. The courtship of the birds is mainly characterized by circling flights, which primarily serve the purpose of defending the territory. The courtship flights usually take place in a duet. The nests are usually created in very tall trees, not infrequently at heights of 30 to 50 meters. The eyrie is enormous and consists mainly of branches and sturdy twigs. The diameter is at least 120 centimeters, but can also be well over 200 centimeters. An eyrie serves the monkey eagles for several years and is repaired or enlarged if necessary.

Monkey eagle

The female lays one or two eggs in the ready-made eyrie, with one egg being the rule. Two eggs are very rare. In the first time only the female warms the eggs, during this time the male provides for more food. Only towards the end of the breeding season does the male take part in warming the eggs. The incubation of the eggs takes about 60 days. Not only is the breeding season very long, but also the nestling season, which extends over seven to eight weeks. The chicks have a whitish downy plumage. It is fed small chunks of meat by both parents during the nestling period. After the young bird is able to fly, it stays with its parents for at least three to four months. During this time he learns from them the skills he needs for life. Life expectancy is 30 to 45 years. In the specialist literature one speaks of a life expectancy of up to 60 years. However, such an old age is only reached under very favorable circumstances.


Monkey eagles are at the top of the food chain, making them an important part of their ecosystem. Since their natural habitat is only available to a small extent, the monkey eagles attack people's poultry and small livestock in the vicinity. However, this to the annoyance of the rural population. As a result, monkey eagles were often hunted and killed in the past. The feathers are mainly used as trophies for the natives.

Hazard and protection

The monkey eagle is on the verge of extinction today. The animals are therefore listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List. The Washington Convention on Endangered Species lists the monkey eagle in Appendix I of the agreement. The main reasons for the dramatic degree of danger are obvious; In the past hundred years, almost all of the tropical rainforest has been destroyed and turned into agricultural land. But the heavy hunting has also contributed to this misery. The pesticides applied in agriculture, which are also indirectly transferred to the monkey eagles through food, primarily damage the genetic make-up of the birds. A rapid recovery of the population is also not in sight, as the monkey eagle has a very low reproductive rate (one chick every two years). The species is now under protection in the Philippines and hunting is strictly prohibited. Domestic trade in animals and products made from them is also strictly regulated on the basis of CITES.


See also

Literature and sources

  • Prof. Dr. Dr. hc Bernhard Grzimek: Grzimek's animal life. Volume 7-9 birds. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG Munich (1993) ISBN 3-423-05970-2
  • Gottfried Mauersberger, Wilhelm Meise: Urania animal kingdom, 7 vols., Birds.Urania, Stuttgart (1995) ISBN 3423032049
  • Einhard Bezzel, Roland Prinzinger: Ornithology, Utb, 1990, ISBN 3800125978
  • Hans-Heiner Bergmann: The biology of the bird. Auditorium, 1987, ISBN 389104447X


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